The secret to a beautiful looking leggings waistband that holds its shape is to add a layer of stretch mesh or power net inside the waistband, just like you would underline a garment. This little extra layer will also help the waistband stay put and hold its shape even during strenuous exercise. I used either mesh or net on pretty much all the Aila Leggings samples, so if you like the look of the waistband, now you know my secret!
But before we start the tutorial, first a few words on the difference between power mesh and net, and which option to pick.
A guide to power mesh and power net
Power mesh is a micro-mesh that is soft, durable, breathable with excellent four-way stretch. Since it is soft, the support when used in a waistband will not be as substantial as with power net. On the other hand, power mesh is generally more comfortable since it is softer and has more stretch.
Power net is a firmer Spandex micro-mesh often used in shapewear and bras. It has less stretch and is often thicker than power mesh. I personally prefer using power net rather than power mesh for lining waistbands on activewear, but softer mesh works too.
To line a leggings waistband with mesh or net you need
• Power net or mesh
• Elastic (optional)
• Regular ballpoint stretch needle, size 90
• Twin ballpoint stretch needle (optional)
• A sewing machine or a serger
• A coverstitch machine (optional)
1. Cut three waistband pieces: Inner, outer and net
You’ll need to cut the outer waistband pieces, the inner waistband pieces, and then a layer of net using the inner waistband pattern pieces. Make sure you
cut the net in the direction with the most stretch.
2. Secure the net to the waistband
Place the power net lining on the wrong sides of the inner waistband facing. Use pins or baste to keep the lining in place
3. Sew the side seam of the waistband
Stitch the outer front waistband to the outer back waistband, right sides facing. Repeat for the inner waistband with the power net lining.
4. Sew together the inner and outer leggings waistband
Sew together the inner and outer waistband matching mid-front and mid-back. Use a machine stretch stitch or a 3-thread serger overlock seam. Make sure you flip the side seams in opposite direction for a non-bulky seam
5. Fold over the inner waistband.
As you can see, the net works as an underlining as it is sewn together with the inner waistband pieces.
6. Stitch the elastic to the seam allowance
This step is optional when using power net, but elastic does add even more stability and prevents the waistband from rolling over. If you are using power
net, be aware that it adds bulk, so a thinner clear elastic is often a better option
than knit elastic. Instead of a loop, you can stitch the elastic on the flat. Stitch on top of the elastic, close to the edge using a wide zigzag stitch.
7. Close the elastic loop
Overlap the elastic about 1 cm (½”) and stitch so that the beginning and end stitch line meets and overlaps.
8. Secure the elastic
Lift the presser foot, turn the waistband 90 degrees and sew two rows of zigzag stitches at the edges of the elastic.
9. The finished waistband
As a final step, you can also stitch the inner waistband using a sewing machine twin-needle or a coverstitch.
On these leggings, I used power net to underline the waistband on a pair of leggings made out of cotton/jersey lycra. I love using this method for leggings made out of natural fibres such as cotton and rayon since it gives the perfect amount of body for those softer materials.
Want to add a drawstring to your waistband? That works too with net lining. Check out my tutorial for how to sew drawstrings to a leggings waistband.